As vaccination policy across the sector continues to evolve, the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) has launched a campaign encouraging everyone employed in construction to become vaccinated.
The campaign features the hashtag #WhyIGotTheShot and carries messages from leaders in Ontario’s construction sector offering personal thoughts on the topic.
OGCA manager of public affairs Erich Schmidt said the outreach is being undertaken on OGCA social media platforms, through its newsletters and in other channels.
“The inspiration for this came from the Ministry of Labour survey about vaccine adoption,” he explained. “They did a survey in early May where they surveyed a variety of industries across Ontario looking for key reasons why people got the vaccine. What they found was, the most successful way of convincing individuals to get the vaccine was for them to talk to their colleagues. So outside of the family environment, when they spoke to their colleagues, they could have a different conversation and there was less family pressure.”
The vaccine advocacy program is aimed at OGCA members who are leaders or involved in health and safety in their organizations, Schmidt said.
“The first few interviews, there was a lot of focus towards protecting other people, protecting their family,” he noted.
A message from Tracey Mooradian, health and safety manager with Eastern Construction, was released Sept. 21. She noted as essential workers during the pandemic, it was realized early on that Eastern employees would run the risk of exposure and that COVID could spread and evolve quickly.
As health and safety manager, she wrote, she is responsible for the safety of many people so the vaccine was a “no-brainer” and she “wanted to do everything I could to prevent and minimize risk to others and myself.”
Mooradian said in an interview she wholeheartedly supports the OGCA campaign as a member of the OGCA’s health and safety committee and noted the whole industry is active these days seeking the right combination of policies to keep workplaces safe.
EllisDon and PCL have made vaccinations mandatory among their employees and her firm has a policy that is evolving, she said. Eastern strongly encourages vaccinations and is working with its employers while advocating continued adherence to the broader safety protocols adopted across the sector.
But it seems inevitable, she said, that more and more project owners will dictate mandatory vaccinations.
“What you’re seeing in the industry, to be frank, regardless of any company’s policy, the owners and buyers of construction are dictating what it is,” said Mooradian. “I would say probably 70, maybe even higher, per cent of our builds, we’ve already received letters over the last month or so, certainly in the last couple of weeks, that by this day and this time, every single person working on that site needs to be vaccinated and or provide that exemption to be allowed to work on the site.”
Mooradian’s testimonial in the OGCA #WhyIGottheShot campaign stated, “Fortunately, I come from a company where our senior management is highly involved. Our COVID response team all worked extremely hard to make sure we got important information about the virus out promptly.
“We live in a country where vaccines are readily available to us for no cost. The best thing we could do for our teams was to communicate information to our workers on time so that they can do their research and make their own choice.”
Mooradian encourages others to become educated with credible sources and to trust the science.
“I encourage everyone to do their research. The shot is the one key piece that is a choice and tool you have complete control of. You can choose to get it as an additional buffer from this virus and for your safety.”
Deb Henhoeffer, health and safety manager at Melloul-Blamey, also offers a testimonial as part of the campaign.
“I knew that once vaccines were rolled out, I must get vaccinated for various reasons,” she said. “As a mother, grandmother and wife, protecting my family and getting back to our roots was extremely important to me. I got my vaccine to protect myself and my family, but I also got my vaccine to protect my work family.”
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